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A Multicultural Let’s Move! Weekend

First Lady Michelle Obama was thinking of Sam Shihadeh and Rose Fakhoury when she challenged faith-based and community organizations to appoint wellness ambassadors.  Sam, a personal trainer and council member of the Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Washington DC, and Rose, the Director of St. George’s Sunday School, joined forces to lead, organize and take action to improve health and wellness in their community.  St. George Church hosted a Let’s Move! event on May 5th to get their community members eating healthy foods, moving and working to combat childhood obesity.

As a congregation inspired to fight obesity, the church practices what it preaches.  The event kicked off with children racing through an outdoor obstacle course.  During the day attendees heard from a diverse group of panelists such as doctors, personal trainers, and a registered dietitian, on the importance of leading a healthy life.  I joined Paul Monteiro of the White House Office of Public Engagement to share more about the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative. Read more »

USDA Hosts Tribal Collaboration Meeting in Nome, Alaska

Recently, representatives of USDA and other federal agencies held a collaboration meeting with the federally recognized tribes of the Bering Straits/Norton Sound Region in Alaska.

The meeting was the second in a series of Tribal Collaboration Meetings scheduled with federally recognized tribes in Alaska. The venue for the dialogue was the beautifully restored Old Saint Joe’s Church Community Center in Nome. Old Saint Joe’s is situated in Nome’s town center and proved to be a perfect site for this historic meeting between federal officials and tribal leaders. Read more »

USDA APHIS Celebrates 40 Years of Public Service

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is celebrating the agency’s 40th anniversary today.  While

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is celebrating the agency’s 40th anniversary today.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is celebrating the agency’s 40th anniversary today.  While APHIS’ program activities and responsibilities have grown and evolved since the Agency’s founding in 1972, the mission remains the same:  serving the public by protecting the health and value of American agriculture and natural resources. Read more »

USDA Supported Project Helps South Dakota Seniors Improve their Quality of Life

Brandon, South Dakota, with a population of about 9,000, has seen significant growth in the last decade, including the area of senior care.  There are two assisted living communities in Brandon, but there has never been a nursing home.  This has put strain on both the patients and their families.

Bethany Lutheran Home for the Aged, LLC operates a nursing home in Sioux Falls, a neighboring community, and the Bethany Meadows independent and assisted living facility in Brandon.  Bethany, which is owned by six area churches, proposed building a nursing home addition on its Bethany Meadows campus in Brandon.  Because the nursing home industry is regulated, financing can be hard to come by, and financing for new construction needs to be at the lowest possible interest rate. Read more »

The Citrus Wizard of Florida

Pictured here with his pet rooster, March, Lue Gim Gong’s work with citrus trees helped develop a frost-tolerant orange after a disastrous winter in Florida.

Pictured here with his pet rooster, March, Lue Gim Gong’s work with citrus trees helped develop a frost-tolerant orange after a disastrous winter in Florida.

No one should live in this world for himself alone, but to do good for those who come after him. Read more »

An Epic Disaster Required Unprecedented Response

From left: Jessica Shahin, Associate Administrator, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Mika Brzezinski and Former Congressman Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.) hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe and Masters of Ceremony  listen to Shahin explain the emergency food assistance provided to survivors of Hurricane Katrina at the United States Department of Agriculture's 150th Anniversary celebration in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, May 15, 2012. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

From left: Jessica Shahin, Associate Administrator, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Mika Brzezinski and Former Congressman Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.) hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe and Masters of Ceremony listen to Shahin explain the emergency food assistance provided to survivors of Hurricane Katrina at the United States Department of Agriculture's 150th Anniversary celebration in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, May 15, 2012. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly seven years since the lives of the citizens of New Orleans and surrounding areas of the Gulf Coast were changed forever in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. This epic storm demanded an immediate and unprecedented response. I was proud to be part of USDA’s team that quickly mobilized to provide disaster food assistance. Read more »